How to Talk to Critics of Aid to Ukraine

Tatyana Deryugina
2 min readJan 30, 2024

Those who oppose arming Ukraine against Russia are a minority, but a vocal one. They present numerous arguments: some claim military aid is ineffective and costly, others that Eastern Europe is none of our business, that arming Ukraine increases the risk of nuclear war, and that negotiations are always superior to armed conflict.

Let me first state that the critics are wrong: military aid is not only essential but also highly cost-effective. The war has already changed the world and reshaped the geopolitical landscape. Confronting Russia’s nuclear threats head-on is crucial to prevent further escalation. Finally, there’s zero evidence that Russia’s “willingness to negotiate” amounts to anything more than a willingness to have Ukraine to capitulate to all of Russia’s demands.

But another problem with the critics’ arguments-and a reason for why they have succeeded in persuading some people-is that they focus solely on real or imaginary flaws of one solution without considering the flaws of alternative scenarios, which are often bigger. Yes, there is some chance that Putin will use a nuclear weapon against Ukraine or a NATO state if he senses that he’s close to losing. But the nuclear threat is even greater in alternative scenarios, if Russia and other potential aggressors learn that nuclear threats work. More generally, advocating for the reduction or cessation of military aid to Ukraine, or for negotiating with Russia, requires a gross distortion of reality:

1. It overlooks the grave longer-run consequences of Russia controlling Ukraine.

2. It assumes Putin’s ambitions are limited to Ukraine, ignoring the likelihood of further aggression if he succeeds.

3. It disregards the global implications of Russia’s actions, particularly concerning other potential aggressors like China, North Korea, and Iran, who are closely observing the world’s response to Russian aggression.

So when you engage with critics of Western support for Ukraine, challenge them to articulate a better alternative and to provide evidence to support their claims. Chances are, they will come up short.

Originally published at https://ukraineinsights.substack.com.

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